The advent of new technology means that crises can be managed more effectively, and resources diverted to help those in need. Mandy Langfield explores the evolving nature of crisis management


ccording to US-based START – the National Consortium for

the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism – with the launch of sites such as Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006 and Instagram in 2010, social media has altered the pace and landscape of crisis communication. A report published on START’s website at the beginning of this year, Toward more audience-oriented approaches to crisis communication and social media research, found that social media sites allow for greater communication and knowledge sharing, as people post thousands of tweets per second as crises unfold, and can obtain news and updates from friends and family before they are published by a news outlet. Te report states: “People use social media for more than crisis information seeking or sharing. In the context of disasters, they increasingly expect emergency managers to constantly monitor and respond to social media posts, often demanding immediate action. However, emergency responders have yet to fully catch up with the demand, still primarily using social media for one-way information

4 | International Travel & Health Insurance Journal

pushing rather than responding to and conversing with their publics.”

Te fast pace of online news and sharing means that crisis management plans have had to be updated as well. One of your insureds sharing a status on Facebook Live or Instagram that he or she is not safe and has had no contact from their employer – or the crisis management team that employer has engaged to provide the service – can be incredibly damaging. Effective crisis management, says Lloyd Figgins, a UK-based travel risk expert and former police officer, soldier and expedition leader, relies on having appropriate and effective risk management systems in place, including country-specific threat assessments, site-specific evaluations and a realistic emergency response plan. “Te key

word here is ‘realistic’,” he told ITIJ. “Far too often, there’s an over- reliance on the assumption that a helicopter will appear at the scene of an incident and whisk casualties away to a place of safety. Te reality is usually completely different. I have been the person on the ground facilitating the evacuation in places like Mali, Indonesia and the DRC and the fact is that in the immediate aftermath of a major incident, it’s

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